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Report: Cavaliers, perhaps willing to trade Dion Waiters, target Kosta Koufos

Cleveland Cavaliers v Memphis Grizzlies

Cleveland Cavaliers v Memphis Grizzlies

NBAE/Getty Images

The Cavaliers have made no secret about the desire to upgrade their center depth.

A six-game win streak doesn’t eliminate that need.

Timofey Mozgov was Cleveland’s first well-publicized target. But with Mozgov content in Denver and locked up for next season, the Nuggets probably aren’t trading him.

So, the Cavaliers are aiming a little lower.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Cleveland, sources say, has been inquiring with the Memphis Grizzlies about the available of reserve center Kosta Koufos among their various trade pursuits.

Sources say that the Cavs are well aware landing a quality big man likely depends on selling on potential trade partners to take back polarizing shooting guard Dion Waiters. Cleveland rates Waiters’ talent highly, but sources maintain that the Cavs have let a number of teams know they are prepared to surrender him if they can acquire a difference-making center in return.

Koufos, by contrast, is an unrestricted free agent next summer whose camp, sources say, has made it known to Grizzlies management that it has less than pleased with the limited role carved out for the 7-footer over the past two seasons.

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Koufos for Waiters straight up would work under the league’s cap rules, and that would be an intriguing deal. Cleveland could also absorb Koufos with its trade exception.

This could be related to the Cavaliers’ reported interest in Tayshaun Prince, though any Prince-to-Cleveland deal would get complicated. The best I can come up with: Prince and Koufos for Waiters, Lou Amundson, James Jones and Alex Kirk. The Grizzlies would have to waive Kalin Lucas first. Cleveland would have to use $3 million of its $5,285,817 trade exception. And the deal couldn’t happen until Dec. 19. Otherwise, it seems viable.

Koufos, averaging 3.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in 14.1 minutes per game, is posting his lowest numbers in four years. With Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph healthy, the Grizzlies just don’t have much use for him.

But how much do they need a shoot-first guard with selfish tendencies? Waiters is talented, and it might be worth buying low on a young player under contract for next season. But for a Grizzlies team trying to win now, I wouldn’t risk disrupting chemistry and sacrificing frontcourt depth just to get Waiters.